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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for October 8, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Sanctions for Museeuw, Planckaert, Peers and Meirhaeghe

The Belgian cycling federation has recommended sanctions for Johan Museeuw, Jo Planckaert and Chris Peers, who were implicated in the José Landuyt affair, and mountain biker Filip Meirhaeghe, who tested positive and admitted to EPO use before a World Cup race in June.

After a meeting behind closed doors on Friday, the federation recommended heavy penalties for Museeuw, Planckaert and Peers: Each received two year suspensions with an additional two years of good behaviour, along with a €6,500 fine. Despite the fact that none of the riders tested positive for banned substances, the federation determined that there was enough evidence collected by the investigators in the Landuyt affair that breached its anti-doping laws. The meeting had to be conducted in secret due to the ongoing criminal investigation into José Landuyt, a veterinarian accused of supplying doping products to cyclists, as well as to the horse and pigeon racing world.

For Planckaert and Peers, both 34 years old, the two year suspensions could well mean the end of their professional careers. Both riders can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne to try to reduce the penalties. For Johan Museeuw, who retired in April this year, the two year sanction is not as damaging. It will prevent him from applying for a licence as a directeur sportif for the next two years, but he has already said that he will instead put his energy into more positive things, such as the Children's Cancer Foundation.

In an open hearing, the Belgian federation recommended a 15 month suspension with an additional 33 months suspended sentence, as well as a €3,220 fine for Filip Meirhaeghe, who tested positive to EPO in an out of competition control on June 25, just before the Mont St. Anne World Cup. Meirhaeghe did not contest the finding and admitted to using the drug, saying at the time, "I didn't want to fail, I wanted to win everything and in order to do that, I took a wrong decision. I have made an error, but like everyone else, I'm also human."

The federation gave several reasons for handing Meirhaeghe a lighter suspension than the expected two years, citing the fact that it was his first offence (apart from a high hematocrit in 1997), his good character and also that he had admitted to using EPO and shown remorse. The suspension means that Meirhaeghe can race again on January 14, 2006.

Mega Maggie talks turkey

By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Las Vegas

Magnus Bäckstedt
Photo: © CN

On his second trip to the States in two weeks for the Interbike Las Vegas bicycle trade show, Magnus Bäckstedt has made the big time. The large, likeable Swede had a breakthrough performance on Team fakta in the 2003 Giro d'Italia by winning the Maglia Azzurra (Intergiro competition). This April, big bad Bäckstedt made history as the first Swede to win Paris-Roubaix with a powerful, determined ride over the pavé.

Bäckstedt now lives outside of Cardiff, Wales and is married to Megan. He and his wife have two daughters, Elynor and a new baby girl Zoe, born just last month. Cyclingnews caught up with Bäckstedt at Interbike, where he was visiting his saddle sponsor Fi'zi:k's stand.

Cyclingnews: Magnus, we just saw you at the T-Mobile International in San Francisco. What are you doing back here?
Magnus Bäckstedt: My sponsors Bianchi and Fi'zi:k asked me to come back to the States for the bike show. Las Vegas is a wild town!

CN: So we understand that you'll be riding a Bianchi again in 2005 at the new Liquigas-Bianchi team.?
MB: Yes, I'm looking forward to next season with this new team. I'll have a classics focus of course and I've got it in mind to try and do the double at Roubaix. I've done it once, so why not twice?

CN: Will you be the Liquigas-Bianchi leader for the classics next season?
MB: We've got some other good riders for the one day races, like Danilo Di Luca (ex-Saeco) but I'll be the leader for the 'bumpy' classics like Roubaix, Het Volk and the like. I'm hoping to have a good start like in 2004, with a build-up and peak for Three Days of De Panne and then Roubaix.

CN: What does you race program look like for 2005 or is it too soon to say?
I learned that I just can't do the Classics, Giro and Tour in one season. You know, winning in Roubaix turned my season upside down. So next year, my program isn't firm yet, but we're talking about the Classics and the Tour.

CN: You've had some physical problems this season, though...
Yes I had some back problems and after getting it checked out, the doctor told me that all the stabilizing muscles underneath your main abdominal muscles, the criss-cross under your six pack, you know?...that all these muscles must have gone into shock from the shock and the crashes and stuff. So I lost all that muscle mass, like when you take a cast off your arm and it's smaller. So after crashing in the classics and then again in the Giro, my underlying abdominal muscles had no stability so my back began to suffer. But I'm good now and will be ready to go next season.

CN: How do you like coming to the States?
Well my first time in America was my trip to San Francisco last month. It was a big surprise to me - how many people knew me and how many were cheering for me along the course. That was great and then when I was at the Bianchi stand at the expo to sign autographs, it was crazy, absolutely crazy!

Off the bike, Bäckstedt is a gentle giant who becomes a mean machine when he hits the road to race. Magnus is looking forward to a big classics season in 2005, especially because he will be battling with his good friend and former flatmate, British champion Roger Hammond, who will be a key classics rider on Lance Armstrong's Discovery Channel Cycling squad.

An interview with Henk Vogels

Dead Man Riding

In 2005, Vogels will make his return to Division I with Davitamon-Lotto
Photo: © Beth Seliga

By all accounts, he should be dead. But Henk Vogels is alive and well, and is ready to return to where he belongs when he's on his bike. Anthony Tan speaks to a man enjoying a new lease on life.

"It was a near-death experience - the ankle injury, the broken neck... I shouldn't be here," he says.

It's a glorious spring day on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. The sun's shining hot and bright with not a cloud in view. Family and friends surrounds him, eating, drinking, talking, laughing. The remains of beer-battered fish and chips lie scattered in cardboard boxes. Just a few steps across the road, the sound of waves crashing into the shoreline can be heard every 30 seconds or so. Oh - and there's a stubbie of VB on the table. Quite clearly, Henk Vogels is here.

"[The accident] was definitely the lowest point. But I would have regretted it if I stopped and I want to give it a big shot, especially after this injury... from being almost dead," Vogels says of the accident that almost cost him his life 15 months ago, the long road to recovery, and his imminent return to Europe in 2005.

Click here to read the full story.

Saeco for Paris-Tours and Giro di Lombardia

Team Saeco has announced its rosters for the final few races of the season, starting with Paris-Tours this Sunday, spanning Milano-Torno and the Giro del Piemonte next week, and finishing with the Giro di Lombardia on Saturday week.

For Paris-Tours, Saeco will field six riders: Mirko Celestino, Giosuè Bonomi, Stefano Casagranda, Nicola Gavazzi, Gerrit Glomser and Eddy Mazzoleni.

For the next week's Milano-Torino (October 13), Giro del Piemonte (October 14) and Giro di Lombardia (October 16), the team will see Damiano Cunego back in action. After riding the World Championships in Verona last Sunday, Cunego travelled to the Las Vegas bike show together with teammate Gilberto Simoni and directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli, but will be back in Italy tomorrow morning and is scheduled to look at the new Lombardia course on Saturday afternoon.

Cunego will ride Milano-Torino on Wednesday along with Leonardo Bertagnolli, Mirko Celestino, Juan Fuentes, Eddy Mazzoleni, Marius Sabaliauskas, Sylvester Szmyd and Giosuè Bonomi.

At the Giro del Piemonte on Thursday, the team will be Leonardo Bertagnolli, Giosuè Bonomi, Juan Fuentes, Nicola Gavazzi, Marius Sabaliauskas, Sylvester Szmyd and Stefano Casagranda.

On Saturday the Saeco team will be built around Damiano Cunego with support from Leonardo Bertagnolli, Mirko Celestino, Juan Fuentes, Eddy Mazzoleni, Marius Sabaliauskas, Sylvester Szmyd and Giosuè Bonomi.

Vandenbroucke with Gilmore in Gent Six

Matthew Gilmore (Vlaanderen-T-Interim) is set to ride with Frank Vandenbroucke ( in the upcoming Gent Six Day race. Six Day promoter Patrick Sercu said that he has a provisional agreement from VDB to ride in Gent, as well as the Sixes in Amsterdam and München.

Vandenbroucke will not likely start in this Sunday's Paris-Tours World Cup race, due to sinusitis.

Blijlevens director with

Ex-professional Jeroen Blijlevens has signed a one year contract to become an assistant directeur sportif with, working alongside team director Arthur van Dongen. "The professional ambitions of the sponsors and the management suit me perfectly," said Blijlevens. "As an ex-pro, I can draw on my experience to help make this team more professional. Because the team wants to expand, I can, as assistant director, focus on all of my possibilities within the sport of cycling. As a team director I will have to use different skills than I did as a rider. I've never made a secret of the fact that I want to stay and work in cycling. Last weekend I was at the World's in Verona together with the sponsors and we discussed a few things in great detail. This is a nice entry inside the sport and we will go quickly from here.

EuroGifts, a manufacturer of promotional products, signed a three year sponsorship contract with the team last week.

The "Warny" gets longer

Australia's longest running one day road race, the Melbourne to Warrnambool Classic (October 9), will be held over an extended parcours of 299 km this year, also making it the longest UCI race on the calendar. The UCI cat. 1.5 event has attracted a field of 128 riders, starting at the Kooringal Golf Club in Altona at 7.30am and finishing in Warrnambool's Raglan Parade at approximately 3:00pm. Citing safety reasons, the organisers extended the race distance by 32 km this year in order to bypass the town of Colac, and the finishers will actually cover 306 km, including the 7 km neutral section. Along the way, the peloton will ride through Werribee, Little River, Lara, Corio, Batesford, Inverleigh, Cressy, Beeac, Alvie, Pirron Yallock, Camperdown, Terang and Panmure.

An international field is expected to take part in the race which is the traditional lead up to the Herald Sun Tour, which starts on October 14. Riders from Belgium, Sweden, Colombia, Great Britain, Czech Republic, Ireland, New Zealand, Poland and of course Australia are down as starters.

Favourites for the race include Hilton Clarke (2000 winner ) and David McKenzie (2001 winner), with the latter forming a team with Henk Vogels, Nick Gates and Scott Guyton. However, Vogels is unsure about starting, as he injured his right ankle while training this week. Although Vogels' left ankle now contains several screws after his terrible crash last year, it was the right one that became sore after a long training ride earlier this week. Vogels said he will leave his decision to race as late as possible.

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